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What shall I say, Lord, now that the words
keep stumbling, tumbling like loose marbles
across the table then down onto the floor,
bouncing and scattering this way and that?

What shall I say as one after one
each sound, each syllable, each sibilant
calls out before fading away? Two sisters
lost now to cancer, a bullet taking

an old friend away. Another friend falls
to the floor and, in an instant, like that,
cracks a wrist, then a rib. Another old
friend I’ve known for fifty years now lies

in his bed, unable to get up while he puts
on that smile of his, as we try to understand
what has happened to him . . . and why.
What can I say? Or, better, what is there to say?

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine.
Out of the depths I cry out to you, Lord.
Oh yes, I know you know my thoughts long
before I utter them, sputtering sounds stuttering

as they spit out each sound. Still, what words
could do justice, dear friend, in the face of it all?
What can one say without sounds? What words
Could ever suffice, Lord? Only You know the Word.

—Paul Mariani

Image by PxHere, public domain. Image cropped and filtered.